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64 Wayne L. Rev. 127 (2018-2019)
Who Conducts Oversight: Bill-Writers, Lifers, and Nailbiters

handle is hein.journals/waynlr64 and id is 135 raw text is: 






   WHO CONDUCTS OVERSIGHT? BILL-WRITERS, LIFERS,
                         AND NAILBITERS

                         BRIAN D. FEINSTEINt

I. IN TRODU CTION .................................................................................. 127
II. H Y POTH ESES .....................................................................................  128
Ill. RESEARCH  D ESIGN .......................................................................... 131
IV . R E SU LTS  ..........................................................................................  139
V . C ON CLU SION  ....................................................................................  147

    The landmark Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 charges
Congress, through its standing committees, to exercise continuous
watchfulness over the executive branch. Yet, committees differ
markedly in their performance of this responsibility; the modal House
committee does not convene oversight hearings in the typical year, while
other committees holds dozens of hearings. This Article compares the
characteristics of committee chairs that pursue oversight vigorously with
those that do not. Surprisingly, I find that chairs' previous prosecutorial
or other legal experience has no discemable connection with oversight
activity. Instead, committees that engage in frequent oversight tend to be
chaired by productive lawmakers (bill-writers), members with long
tenures in office (lifers), and members facing competitive elections
(nailbiters). Should congressional leaders desire to increase their
branch's role in governance after the passage of laws, they ought to
encourage members with these characteristics to chair committees.

                          I. INTRODUCTION

    By now, it's an old story: Congress delegates enormous authority to
the executive branch,1 then shirks its responsibility to monitor these
delegations.2 Proposals to encourage Congress to better perform its

    f Assistant Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics, The Wharton School of
the University of Pennsylvania. This Article was prepared for the Wayne Law Review
Symposium on Congressional Oversight in the 21st Century, held at the Levin Center at
Wayne State University Law School, March 23, 2018. I thank Elise Bean, Lauren Bell,
Kimberly Breedon, Christopher Bryant, Kathleen Clark, Kevin Kosar, William Marshall,
and Andrew McCanse Wright for helpful comments, and James Feinstein for his good
cheer.
    1. See Kathryn A. Watts, Rulemaking at Legislating, 103 GEO. L.J. 1003, 1003
(2015).
   2. See, e.g., THEoDoRE J. Lowi, THE END OF LIBERALISM: THE SECOND REPUBLIC OF
THE UNITED STATES (1979); JOINT COMM. ON THE ORG. OF CONG., ORGANIZATION OF THE
CONGRESS: FINAL REPORT (1993) (quoting Government Operations Committee chair John

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